Science Advisory Report 2018/030
Assessment of Capelin in SA2 and Divs. 3KL in 2017
- A warming trend that began in the mid-1990s, peaked in 2010 and has since decreased with colder less saline conditions during the past 4-years.
- Production indices based on ocean colour metrics (e.g., total production, intensity, time of maximum, and duration indices of the spring bloom) and secondary production indices since 1998 were correlated with ocean climate conditions and may be linked to cooling and higher ice extent observed over the NW Atlantic. Cooler conditions are associated with delayed spring blooms.
- Shifts in community composition of zooplankton since 2015 have been characterized by smaller copepod taxa along with a substantial reduction in biomass.
- Fisheries productivity on the Newfoundland Shelf has declined since the early to mid-2010s. This decline was initially associated with a loss of shellfish and in the last two years includes declines in piscivores. Despite this decline in predators, the index of fish predation on capelin increased in 2016 and 2017.
- Landings were 23,065 t, 27,708 t and 19,917 t representing 81%, 97% and 70% of the TAC in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.
- The spring acoustic abundance index in 2017 declined 70% from the 2015 value, returning to values observed during the late 2000s.
- The size composition of capelin landed in the commercial fishery declined in 2017. This was largely due to a high proportion of age 2 spawners. This is consistent with what was observed in the spring acoustic survey.
- Spawning times since 2015 have been delayed. Late spawning is associated with poor cohort strength.
- The 2001-2017 capelin larval index has been positively correlated with abundance at age 2. The larval index has been low for the past four years and year classes entering the fishery in 2018 and 2019 are expected to be small.
- All reviewed information indicates that the year class strength of capelin is primarily environmentally driven. The impact of removals by fisheries and the consumption by predators is unknown at this time.
This Science Advisory Report is from the March 7-8, 2018 Assessment of Capelin in SA2 and Divs. 3KL. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.
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